These Women are Doing Natural Hairstyles Right
Scalp-burning hot combs. High-maintenance chemical relaxers. Tight and itchy sew-ins. Over the years, black women have gone through a lot of pain, effort, and expense to achieve straight hair. And some just don't want to do it anymore.
We interviewed eight such women, who prove that natural hairstyles—with their tight coils, unapologetic fullness, and baby hairs—are just as gorgeous as straight hair. These Instagrammers break down what it takes for them to achieve their look, as well as detail exactly why they stopped hiding their natural texture. And with their mix of afros, twist outs, and locs, they demonstrate that natural hairstyles have a lot of versatility.
How did you style this look? Starting on wet hair, I added One 'n Only Argan Oil Serum to my hair and blew my hair dry in four sections.
Why do you like this style? Because it helps to stretch the hair so you can either wear it out as is or use it as a base to create other styles, like wand curls, braid outs, and twist outs.
Did you ever relax your hair? I have never relaxed my hair, but I did suffer from severe heat and color damage.
What made you switch to your natural texture? I switched to my natural hair texture [from hot tools] because I wanted to improve the overall health of my hair.
How did you style this look? I styled my hair using the African threading technique where you tie thread around your hair strands to stretch the hair.
Why do you like this style? Because it is my hair in its natural state, and it makes me feel 100% comfortable with myself.
Did you ever relax your hair? Yes, my hair was relaxed as a child. It was my mother's choice.
What made you switch to your natural texture? I chose to grow out my natural hair because I was tired of trying to conform to a European standard of beauty and wanted to embrace my natural beauty.
Braidout with Two Wash-and-Gos
How did you style these looks? We all used products [from] Curls. My girls [Shanillia, left with the braid out, and Jenelle, right with the wash-and-go] used the leave-in and Curly Custard of the Curly Q line. I used the leave-in and Curling Jelly of the Blueberrybliss line.
Did you ever relax your hair? What about your girls? My girls have always been natural. I got a perm at the age of 9 and returned natural just three years ago. My girls are the ones who made me go natural. I felt like I could not teach my girls to love their hair when they [saw me] doing everything to alter [mine].
From the age of 2, my daughter was telling me she wanted hair just like her mommy (relaxed hair). It broke my heart seeing that I was continuing the cycle. I kept telling her that her hair was beautiful. That she in fact had my hair. That my 'real' hair looked like hers. She didn't get it (I didn't either).
So when she was 5, I told her I was going to grow my hair out and show her that she has hair like her mommy and that it was beautiful just the way it is. And to be honest, that's when she started to love hers. She no longer longs for straight hair. Every time I try and use the blow dryer she'll ask me, 'you're not going to straighten it, right?! Good, cuz I don't want my hair to get damaged!' I love my hair just the way it is.
How did you style this look? This picture was taken in the summer so I would have likely shampooed my hair with OGX Argan Oil and Shea Butter Shampoo and then massaged sweet almond oil and lavender into my scalp to condition it, letting my hair air dry in the sun. Because my hair is so thick, I rarely put it into updos or other styles and am most comfortable wearing it down.
Why do you like this style? I like locs because they're fairly unique as well as pretty low-maintenance. Locs can be fragile, so you have to learn how to properly care for them, but once you do, it's pretty much 'get up and go.'
Did you ever relax your hair before? I relaxed my hair all throughout my teens and early twenties. My hair was very thick as well as long, and I would wear it in a bun almost every day.
What made you switch to your natural texture? I started to become curious about the texture of my natural hair and concerned with the health effects of continuing to use relaxer. One day, I took the leap and chopped all my relaxed hair off at home. I went to a salon a few days later to get a cuter cut.
How did you style this look? I had just washed, deep conditioned, and dried my hair with a hair dryer with the diffuser attachment. Before I dried it, though, I applied a leave-in conditioner called Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream and some coconut oil to seal in the moisture. Once my hair was dry, I just piled it all on the top of my head, pulled it through a ponytail holder, and tied it into a bun.
Why do you like this style? Because it's a really easy yet chic way to tie my hair to keep it out of my face. I have a newborn baby and my curls can be a bit much in his face, so tying it up this way ensures that I stay looking cute and chic at the same time.
Did you ever relax your hair before? Yes, I used to relax my hair years ago. I had my last relaxer in 2010.
What made you switch to your natural texture? I switched to my natural texture because I was tired of trying to keep it straight with harmful relaxer chemicals. I knew that my natural hair was curly, so after years of on and off relaxing, I was keen to see what I would look like with my natural hair all grown out.
TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro)
How did you style this look? I used Eco Styler gel (argan oil). The styling method is called shingling. I separate small sections at a time, apply small amounts of gel, and twist each section to define my natural curl pattern.
Why do you like this style? I enjoy this style because it shows off my natural curls, it can last me up to two weeks, and it's low manipulation to my hair. I can give my hair a break in between styles.
Did you ever relax your hair? I use to relax my hair, I've been natural for four years now.
What made you switch to your natural texture? My hair was healthy relaxed but at its healthiest natural. My hair [was] normally in styles that [didn't show my natural hair]; it didn't make any sense to keep relaxing it if I don't show it. I have thin hair as well, the relaxer just made my hair look even more thin and I was insecure about it. I prefer my hair in its natural state, it complements me in every way.
How did you style this look? I shampooed and conditioned with the DevaCurl Decadence line. Afterwards, I applied SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Grow Leave-In Conditioner, and Strengthen, Grow & Restore styling lotion. I raked the products evenly throughout my damp hair, using only my fingers. Once both products were applied, I scrunched my hair with a cotton T-shirt and allowed it to air dry.
Why do you like this style? Because it allows my hair to be worn in its natural state, stay healthy and damage free but soft and moisturizing.
Did you ever relax your hair before? I used to relax my hair and stopped in 2006.
What made you switch to your natural texture? I always knew I had naturally curly hair, and one day, I attempted to wear my curls after a cleanse and conditioning. My hair was so damaged from the relaxers and heat, it refused to curl. My hair looked sad and limp. After that day, I decided I wanted to restore my curls and that even on days when I chose to straighten my hair, a relaxer [wouldn't be] needed. It took me a year and a 'big chop' later before my true curl pattern returned. Due to all the hard work I went through to get to that point, it was two years before I ever straightened it again, of course NOT using a relaxer—just a good heat protectant and a little jojoba oil.
Twist Out with Buns
How did you style this look? I used the Shea Moisture Intensive Hydration Twist-Defining Custard to twist my hair. I let the twists dry overnight, took them out the next morning, and fluffed my roots out with a pick. Then I just pulled the two buns up at the top.
Why do you like this style? It's a very simple style that's super easy to do even on my lazy days.
Did you ever relax your hair before? Yes, I used to relax.
What made you switch to your natural texture? I decided to start wearing my natural texture because the health of my hair was suffering from relaxers. I also admired other girls who wore their natural hair, which gave me the inspiration to wear mine!
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Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.